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Willisms

« September 2009 | WILLisms.com | November 2009 »

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 687 -- Privatized Social Security.

Galveston Proves Personal Accounts Work-

More than four years ago now, I wrote about Galveston's privatized Social Security system. The scare tactics about giving people personal accounts rather than the government retirement option are bunk. In the early 1980s, there was an opportunity for opt-out. Galveston took the federal government up on the offer, and their experiment just plain worked.

Galveston's privatized system is succeeding:

beckoct292009.jpg

Social Security is simply an unsustainable pyramid scheme as it is currently set up. It relies on younger generations to pay for the benefits of the older generations. When there are fewer younger people, the system fails.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Virginia's Gubernatorial Race.

Posted by Will Franklin · 30 October 2009 09:31 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 686 -- Virginia's Gubernatorial Race.

Republicans On Rise-

A Republican Tsunami is coming. We will see the first waves in NY-23 and Virginia. Maybe even New Jersey. Some run-down on the Virginia gubernatorial numbers from Larry Sabato:

vagovernor.gif
In sum, seven of the ten north stars in the '09 Virginia heavens spell out "GOP." Only two provide illumination for Democratic hopes. One is arguably neutral.

The Republican net advantage of five north stars is equal to the edge held by the last two Virginia governors who not only won, but chalked up victories by large margins (Democrat Gerald Baliles in 1985 and Republican George Allen in 1993).

Republicans will welcome this astronomical blessing. Democrats will say it is not the science of astronomy but the bunk of astrology.

Astronomy or astrology? We'll all find out on November 3rd.

The Republican comeback starts Tuesday.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Successful New Yorkers Moving To Texas.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 October 2009 03:05 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 685 -- High Income People Moving From New York To Texas.

Taxes Killing New York Slowly But Surely-

The Empire Center in New York has a new study out showing how that state is losing its citizens to other states, like Florida and Texas:

gainedincomefortexas.gif

It is not poor and desperate folks leaving, it's the skilled folks with relatively high incomes, bringing their college degrees and corresponding skills with them (unfortunately, they also bring their liberal ideology far too often).

The average New Yorker moving to Texas makes more than $60,000 annually, which is well above both the national median income and the Texas median income. These are the IBM engineers and the young 20-somethings and 30-somethings with MBAs and law degrees. They are moving not just for warmer weather, but for the opportunity found in lower tax states.

Lesson for New York and other high tax, high out-migration states: Eventually, those middle class and entrepreneurial class folks leaving your state are going to drain your tax base, your creative class, and your very soul. Civilization moves where it is treated well. Right now, it is moving to low tax states like Texas.

From 2000 to 2008, Florida had the most net in-migration, Texas had the second most, and Arizona had the third most. Over the past couple of years, Texas has the most.

Makes sense, then, that there is a "Texas Premium" for U-Haul rentals:

Want to move from Chicago (9.7% unemployment) to Houston (8.4% unemployment)? It will cost you $1,970. But it will cost only $449 to make the trip from Houston to Chicago. Los Angeles (11.8% unemployment) to Houston was $2,051, while Houston to Los Angeles was only $555.

San Francisco (10.7% unemployment) to Dallas (8.3% unemployment) will cost you $1,988. But the opposite will cost only $689. Boston to Dallas was $2,134, while Dallas to Boston was only $634.

Miami (10.8% unemployment) to Austin, Texas (7.2% unemployment), will cost $1,706. But the reverse will cost only $827. Similarly, Phoenix to Austin will cost $1,490, while Austin to Phoenix will cost only $654.

We might call these differences the "Texas premium" because regardless of location -- East Coast, West Coast or somewhere in between -- the migration appears to be to Texas. U-Haul is lowering the price drastically for anyone who is willing to move the equipment back.

Ideas matter.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Newspapers Failing.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 October 2009 03:55 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 684 -- Newspapers Continue Their Slide.

Establishment Media Dying Slowly But Surely-

Editor & Publisher has the numbers on the declining newspaper industry:

newspaperbonk.gif

One of the largest drops was the Dallas Morning News. Gee, I wonder why.

[Hat tip to Michael Quinn Sullivan, via twitter]

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Less-Than-Conservative Republicans Helping Obama Boost Spending.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 October 2009 10:50 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 683 -- Spending Ratcheting Up, Obama Not Exclusively To Blame.

Spending Before Obama Bad, Spending Under Obama WAY WORSE-

It's getting bad up there in Washington. I mean, it was bad before, but it has gotten ridiculously bad on the spending-like-drunken-sailors front. The venerable Wall Street Journal explains just how bad:

spendasyougo.gif
The White House disclosed the other day that the fiscal 2009 budget deficit clocked in at $1.4 trillion, amid the usual promises to do something about it. Yet even as budget director Peter Orszag was speaking, House Democrats were moving on a dozen spending bills for fiscal 2010 that total 12.1% in more domestic discretionary increases.

Yes, 12.1%.

Remember, inflation is running close to zero, or 0.8%. The good news, if we can call it that, is that Senate Democrats only want to increase nondefense appropriations by 8% for 2010. Because these funding increases become part of the permanent baseline for future appropriations, the 2010 House budget bills would permanently raise annual outlays for discretionary programs by about $75 billion a year from now until, well, forever.

These spending hikes do not include the so-called mandatory spending programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which exploded by 9.8% and 24.7%, respectively, in the just-ended 2009 fiscal year. All of this largesse is also on top of the stimulus funding that agencies received in 2009. The budget for the Environmental Protection Agency rose 126%, the Department of Education budget 209% and energy programs 146%.

House Republicans on the Budget Committee added up the 2009 appropriations, the stimulus funding and 2010 budgets and found that federal agencies will, on average, receive a 57% increase in appropriated funds from 2008-2010. By contrast, real family incomes fell by 3.6% last year. There's no recession in Washington.

Notice the growth in those appropriations bills. Guess who has voted to rubber stamp Obama on these appropriations bills?

Unfortunately, our own Senior Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison voted for all 7 of 7 these out-of-control, unsustainable deficit-spending, budget-busting bills. And now she wants to do for Texas what she has done in Washington, DC.

No, thanks.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Socialized Health Care Waiting Times.

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 26 October 2009 08:42 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 682 -- Socialist Health Care Wait Times.

Wait Times Too Long When Government Controls Health Care-

Canadian patients have to wait way too long:

ISSmed1023_1091022_345.jpg
The Fraser Institute in Canada reports that the median wait time from a general practitioner's referral to actual treatment by a specialist was 17.3 weeks in 2008 (see chart). That's a full week better than the previous year, but far worse than a decade and a half earlier when the wait time was 9.3 weeks.

Health care "reform" along the lines of what the Democrats are suggesting is no reform at all.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Central Texas Drought.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 October 2009 04:17 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 681 -- Central Texas Drought Coming To An End?

Finally, Rain-

Two and a half years ago, the Austin area was flush with rain. Our lakes were all entirely full. We had streams and creeks running here, there, and everywhere. There were rapids in our lazy-flowing Town Lake. It almost seemed like the rain would never end.

Then it did.

And we have been incredibly dry for more than 2 years now:

Screen shot 2009-10-22 at 2.27.46 PM.png

For the past month or so, however, we've clearly been in some kind of rainy pattern, and that's not a bad thing at all:

37791202-314316b2242556d494105d349956d421.4ae0b011-full.jpg

The latest map is showing some clear drought relief:

Screen shot 2009-10-22 at 2.28.05 PM.png

Graphs!


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: TARP Fail.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 October 2009 02:33 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 680 -- TARP Waste.

Wasting Money, The Government Way-

The Federal Government's special TARP inspector Neil Barofsky ripped the TARP bailout:

wheretarpwent.gif
A Treasury Department watchdog is warning that a key $700 billion bailout program has damaged the government's credibility, won't earn taxpayers all their money back and has done little to change a culture of recklessness on Wall Street.

Here is an interview with Barofsky from this morning:

Of course, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison claimed the day before the TARP vote that it would be a low cost, no cost, or even a positive for taxpayers:

Yeah, no.

And now the Senator has earned the ignoble title of "Porker of the Month" for the third time, from Citizens Against Government Waste.

This lady is a big-spending RINO, and Texas cannot afford her.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Green Energy, The Texas Way.

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 21 October 2009 11:21 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 679 -- Green Energy.

Obama's "Green"print Bad For America-

This map comes from the Institute for Energy Research:

greenenergy.gif
Washington, DC – Though proponents of so-called government-funded ‘green jobs’ often reference the ‘success’ European countries have enjoyed in their experiments with such regulations and mandates, a study released today in the United States sheds new light on Germany’s experience with renewable energy and heavy taxpayer subsidies. Entitled ‘Economic impacts from the promotion of renewable energies: The German Experience,’ the study was published by German think tank Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI).

According to the study, “Germany’s experience with renewable energy promotion is often cited as a model to be replicated elsewhere, being based on a combination of far-reaching energy and environmental laws that stretch back nearly two decades.” Researchers add this: “German renewable energy policy … has failed to harness the market incentives needed to ensure a viable and cost-effective introduction of renewable energies into the country’s energy portfolio.”

Green energy mandates would add an incredible burden on regular voters. I am not sure this is the change that Americans were voting for.

It is interesting that Texas and California both are lower than the national average. The New York Times had an interesting article about the different approaches Texas and California are taking toward promoting alternative energy:

Rick Perry, bashes the Environmental Protection Agency at every opportunity, and recently branded the climate bill that passed the House of Representatives a “legislative monstrosity.”

Yet the oil-and-gas state has nonetheless emerged as the nation’s top producer of a commodity prized by environmentalists: wind power. Eager developers are covering its desolate western mesas with giant turbines. The world’s largest wind farm began operations in Texas this month, and the state now has close to three times as much wind capacity as Iowa, the second-ranked state.

This achievement puts Mr. Perry’s state in odd company. The race for clean-energy leadership is on — and big red Texas is going head-to-head with the gung-ho greens of California.

....

Texas’s secret, besides strong winds and lots of land, is its lack of regulation. Wind developers rave about the fact that, in essence, they need few state permits to build a turbine farm. They deal mainly with local officials, who are generally permissive (energy, after all, is a well-loved commodity in Texas).

Texas is going green in many ways, without inflicting crippling mandates and fiscal bankruptcy upon itself. All Texans really want is to be left alone by the federal government; if the feds throw cap and trade and a bunch of other new environmental mandates and regulations on Texas (which is already happening slowly but surely), it will harm our traditional energy sector, which remains critical for our country for decades to come. It may also stifle and undermine the emerging successes Texas has achieved in "green" energy.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Visualize Whirled Peas-- And Balanced Budgets.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 October 2009 09:39 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 678 -- Visualizing Budgets.

Obama's Budgets-

This video has been out for a while, but it's still good:

Speaks for itself, really.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Kay Bailey Hutchison Voted For Billions In Additional Stimulus Spending.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 October 2009 10:02 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 677 -- Deficits Three Times Larger Than Previous Record.

Big Government, Big Hole To Climb Out From-

America now faces deficits roughly 3 times as large as any of the record Bush deficits:

budget-deficit-1969-to-2019.gif

Bailouts and stimulus are driving these deficits, more than even entitlement spending growth.

In Texas, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison criticized Governor Rick Perry for turning down a $550+ million portion of our state's multi-billion dollar stimulus share (note that Texas is a donor state). KBH would have preferred that Texas accept those additional dollars and be required to grow our state government unemployment system-- and put the state on the hook for complying with those federal strings for many years to come. Not exactly a 100% unfunded mandate, but it is fair to call it merely a slightly funded federal mandate.

Not only that, but Senator Hutchison also voted with the Democrats and against our conservative Senator John Cornyn on a measure that would have eliminated tens of billions of dollars in wasteful stimulus spending projects, like half a billion bucks for climate change research and 125 million dollars on the DC sewer system. Total cost of Senator Hutchison's vote: potentially upwards of SEVERAL TENS OF BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars.

One of only 7 Republicans (including now-Democrat Arlen Specter, whiny George Voinovich of Ohio, and both RINO Senators from Maine) to vote no, KBH's vote was also a vote in favor of big labor unions, as it also would have repealed Davis-Bacon and opened up government contracts to competitive bidding rather than keeping federal stimulus construction projects completely within the grip of big labor. The provision protecting the union bosses alone added 9.91% to the cost of the Obama stimulus, according to Americans for Tax Reform.

Texas has a balanced budget and a $9 billion Rainy Day fund. The U.S. has an insanely large 1.4+ TRILLION dollar deficit this year. The choice in the Perry versus Hutchison race is abundantly clear.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Entitlement Spending Set In Stone.

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 15 October 2009 11:11 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 676 -- Entitlement Spending Set In Stone?

Social Security, Medicare, And Medicaid-

A nice graphic visual of entitlements in America:

And we just keep adding to these entitlements, never reform them properly.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Health Care Reform Not Really Reformative.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 October 2009 05:13 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 675 -- Health Care "Reform" Is No Reform At All.

Dumb Reform-

John Hinderaker over at Powerline has this graph from the PWC study about reform:

PWC821.jpg
...the cost of health insurance for the average family will rise by $4,000 by 2019, as compared with doing nothing

And that's the point. To make private insurance more unaffordable, and to push people toward government dependency.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Earmarks & Spending.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 October 2009 03:38 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 674 -- Earmarks & Total Spending.

They Grow Together-

Behold, earmarks and total budget growth in the first half of the 2000s:

earmarks_080312.gif

I have argued many times here that earmarks are not the primary source of bigger budgets (entitlement spending is the main driver of bigger government), but earmarks do unequivocally contribute to higher spending. There is a suspicious correlation, and the explanation is simple. The more earmarks are in a big spending bill, the harder it is for even "conservatives" to vote against ginormous appropriations bills.

Addiction to earmarks was also one of the primary contributors to the downfall of Congressional Republicans. It completely eviscerated the small government, responsible-spending GOP brand. Defending earmarks, not smart policy or politics.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Baucus Plan.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 October 2009 04:48 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 673 -- Baucus Plan.

Higher Taxes, More Government, Bad Medicine-

The Baucus plan raises taxes and cuts benefits (sort of, maybe, kind of) to pay for government-run health care:

baucusplan
Added together, these new taxes total $311 billion, a number that critics say is far too high.

"They tax us to the point that they reduce the deficit," said Michael Tanner, a health care policy expert at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. "In essence, the deficit savings you have are simply because of the tax increases."

Even after taxes, the government would still need an additional $599 billion to achieve the cost-bending estimate provided by the CBO. The Baucus bill calls for getting the bulk of that money from cuts to Medicare spending.

I know we're in bizarro-world and all these days, but-- what? Seriously? This is the plan?

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Medicaid Expansion.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 October 2009 10:13 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 672 -- Medicaid Expansion.

Growth Monsters-

Obamacare would impose incredible mandates on a lot of Western states, including Texas:

MedicaidGrowth.gif

Obamacare could end up being one of the biggest federal impositions upon states since the 1960s.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Congressional Approval Ratings Down.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 October 2009 03:08 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 671 -- Congressional Approval Ratings.

People Want Congress Out Of Our Lives-

Congress is out of touch. Republicans are angry. Independents are angry. Even Democrats are becoming disillusioned:

congressionalapproval.gif

People are angry, and I think we will see TEA PARTY events for some time to come, even if Republicans manage to take back the House and/or Senate.

Note to Congress: leave us alone.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Medicaid Fraud.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 October 2009 01:00 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 670 -- Fraud In Medicaid.

Can't We Go Ahead & Clean This Up Now?-

Some of the Democrats are claiming that we could just eliminate the fraud and waste and abuse in Medicaid and pay for socialized medicine with the savings.

My question is: why don't we go ahead and do that, as is, without turning over the remainder of our health care system to the government?

Fraud and overpayments are generally on the rise (.pdf):

medicaidfraudandoverpayments.gif

My hunch is that we aren't doing it now, because it's not that easy. And there is little to no chance of saving enough money to pay for a total government health care takeover.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Federal Mandates For Medicaid On States.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 October 2009 11:52 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 669 -- Medicaid Mandates.

No Wonder States Angry About Medicaid-

States are pushing back on the federal government and resisting perpetual expansion of Medicaid.

No wonder. Take a look at Texas. In Texas, federal government mandates this program on the state, but the state share has risen dramatically (.pdf):

TXstateshareofmedicaid

Over the past five biennia, Medicaid spending paid for out of GR has nearly doubled—up from $10.1 billion in 2002-03 to $18.6 billion in the current biennium. Should the cost of Medicaid continue trending in the same direction, the state’s taxpayers could very well be on the hook for $20 billion, or more, for the program by the next biennium.

In Texas, the federal government ponied up 9% more from 2008-2009 to 2009-2010, while the state share rose 15.3% to keep pace with new mandates. At these rates, the state will soon be paying for the outright majority of a federal program, with very little input into how to structure the program.

We desperately need health care reform, but it should look a lot more like what Whole Foods did (with Health Savings Accounts, High Deductible Health Plans, etc.) than what Obama and the Democrats are trying to do right now.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Public Sector Unions.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 October 2009 12:24 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 668 -- Public Sector Unions.

Government Keeping Unions Going-

Unions have a vested interest in big government, because although union membership in the private sector is declining, it has kept pace in government:

unionsnotshrinkingingovernment.gif
High rates of unionization in the public sector have led to very high labor costs in the form of generous collective bargaining contracts. Now state and local governments are under increasing financial pressure, as a worsening national economy has led to decreased revenues for states and municipalities—many of which remain locked into the generous contracts negotiated in more flush times. Thus, as businesses retrench, governments find themselves in a financial straitjacket. In addition, as government unions grow stronger relative to private-sector unions, their prevalence erodes the moderating influence of the market on the demands that unions make of employers.

....

...unionization of government employees creates a powerful, permanent constituency for bigger government— one that is motivated, well-funded, and organized. It also makes some recommendations as to how to check this constituency's growing power—an effort that promises to be an uphill struggle.

It is a cycle that is hard to break. Growing government necessarily strengthens the Democratic Party by strengthening union membership. Bigger government and reckless spending growth in the 2000s, often rubber stamped by certain Republicans-in-name-only, contributed to Democratic electoral victories in 2006 and 2008.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: People Voting With Their Feet.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 October 2009 10:37 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 667 -- U-Haulnomics.

People Voting With Their Feet-

Carpe Diem always has great graphics, and this one on "People Voting With Their One-Way U-Haul Rentals" is no exception:

Uhaul.jpg

U-Haulnomics is real. One would think Michigan and other failing states would begin to "get" it, but-- unfortunately-- the ones who "get" it are all leaving.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Economic Freedom.

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 October 2009 11:38 AM · Comments (1)